Chakotay stood in the darkened quarters and looked around him. He felt completely drained, physically and emotionally. He moved forward slowly and stared at the small coffee table where the two wine glasses sat, one overturned now in his panic to get Kathryn to sickbay.
He knelt down and stared at the spilled liquid for several minutes, one finger making patterns through it on the table. He smiled sadly. Fruit juice in wine glasses. Somehow it had felt more like a celebration using Kathryn's grandmother's crystal.
He shook himself and reached for some tissues, wiping up the dregs. He stood then and cleaned up as best he could, using mundane actions to try and block out the memories of Kathryn's screams.
Finally, his fatigue overcame him and he sank down into the sofa. He stared ahead at nothing then closed his eyes as memories assaulted him of the past fourteen hours in sickbay. His heart had been torn to see the woman he loved in such pain and he leaned forward now and bent over, giving way to tears he felt no shame in shedding.
It all came back to him then in a rush, images crowding in on him. He slipped off the sofa onto his knees and gripped the edge of the coffee table, his knuckles white with the action.
And still the images came. The Doctor rushing back and forth, pushing him out of the way. Calling Tom Paris in to assist. Kathryn's cries and screams of agony. Her blood spilling, the surgical sheets drenched in it. Her face, so pale, tears spilling from her eyes, pain etched in every line.
Chakotay sank back against the sofa, raking his fingers through his hair, his nails scoring his scalp. He cried out to the silent room.
Chakotay slowly came back to the present and stood stiffly. Every part of him seemed to hurt. He walked slowly across the room and stared down at Kathryn's desk and the hypospray there which the Doctor had given him, the sedative intended to help him sleep.
He picked it up and stared at it as if never having seen one before. He raised it towards his neck and then stopped. Without thinking, he dropped it and walked towards the door.
Chakotay stood in the now silent sickbay and closed his eyes, fighting the memories and sounds which returned to him. He drew in a deep breath and moved forward. He jumped when the Doctor appeared before him.
"Commander, I gave you strict instructions to return to your quarters and take that sedative. You will be useless to this crew if you let your exhaustion take over. You're the captain now…" Chakotay stared down at the floor.
"No, I'm not." He looked up slowly. "I just needed to see her again…" The Doctor shook his head but eventually nodded his understanding.
"All right, but please, Commander, try and get some sleep then." He watched as Chakotay slowly crossed the room and walked over to the biobed where Kathryn lay. He saw him reach his hand out, running it through the air over Kathryn's body, almost afraid to touch her. The area was clean now, the floor free of blood and other fluids. A fresh sheet covered her.
Chakotay stared down at her still face, clean now, her hair brushed out. She still looked so pale though. He squeezed his eyes closed, fighting the memories once again. Finally, he forced his eyes open and stared down at her again. He slowly raised his hand and hesitantly stroked her face.
"Kathryn… Oh Kathryn…"
He jumped slightly when someone touched his shoulder. He turned to see the Doctor, a kind smile on his face. He pointed to a chair.
"Sit down before you fall down, Commander. Just promise me you won't stay too long." Chakotay nodded and tried a tired smile, hoping to convey his gratitude.
"Thank you, Doctor…" He sank down into the chair and continued to stare at the still form of Kathryn. Eventually he reached for her hand and caressed it. Her skin felt cool to his touch. He stroked her face again and sighed heavily.
Suddenly she stirred and opened her eyes. She gave him a tired smile and her voice sounded hoarse.
"What are you doing back here?"
Chakotay smiled softly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you. I just had to come back and see you again. I had to reassure myself…be sure that you were all right…" He left the rest unsaid.
Kathryn smiled tiredly but he saw that she understood. "I know." She squeezed his hand.
He shook his head. "I was so scared. I never want to go through that again…never want to see you in such pain again. It ripped my heart out."
Kathryn saw his exhaustion and the lingering anguish. "It's OK. I'm fine…" She studied him. "Chakotay…you need to sleep."
He nodded. "I will. Just another minute…" He looked up to see the Doctor standing over them.
"Enough now, Commander. You need sleep and so does my patient. She'll still be here in the morning and you can come back then."
Chakotay nodded and smiled. "I will. Just one more minute. I promise." The Doctor nodded, muttering to himself as he walked away about no one ever listening to him."
Kathryn tugged on Chakotay's hand. "He's right."
Chakotay squeezed her hand again. "I know. I'm going." He leaned down and kissed her tenderly. "I love you, Kathryn."
She smiled lovingly at him. "I love you too…" She held his eyes for a moment then twisted her head a little, looking behind him. "How is she?"
Chakotay smiled and turned to look into the small crib. He reached his free hand into it and traced his fingers gently over the small face and tiny, perfect fingers.
"She's fine. She's perfect and beautiful. Just like her mother."